How a single plant changed world design in Techtonica


A few weeks back, we offered a look at Butterfly Cove, PT VICTOR, and a little of what our studio goes through when we name an area in a game for internal reference.

Today, we’ll show and explain a little of the process of iterating on a space in Techtonica‘s map in response to new flora, expanding art, and winding terrain. What’s west of Butterfly Cove? Western Butterfly Cove, clearly.

A change based on plant life diversity

Butterfly Cove is a large, open cavern with a waterfall, pooled river, and massive Waterglass Monarchs. That look was set to continue throughout the full Terminal VICTOR space when we started designing the level.

We changed our minds, though, with the introduction of a new plant. Meet the Shiverthorn.

The Kindlevine, if you’re not familiar, is the orange plant found all over the River Biome in the demo (and what will launch with Early Access). The Shiverthorn packs some different materials, and it’s found initially in Western Butterfly Cove.

As the plant was introduced, our artists and level designers decided to reign in the space around it, bring the ceilings down, and introduce a new feel to the Western Butterfly Cove. Now? It’s tighter, more intimate, and evocatively cold, much like the Shiverthorn that inspired the change.

Bending the environment to a fresh mentality

Nothing really highlights the differences between Butterfly Cove and Western Butterfly Cove quite like a brief flythrough of each. Here they are labeled in a single GIF.

Hello, iterative level design

This process of slowly reworking and reshaping a space in a game is iterative level design, and it’s a pretty common practice in game dev. That iterative process can seem slow but brings vast, sweeping changes over time.

The introductions of the Shiverthorn, water plants, ivy, facilities (more on these later in February), stalagmites, and stalactites turned what was once a repeat of a nearby space into something completely different.

If you like these types of dives into the nuance of Techtonica’s design, . Ask questions, get answers. It’s where we hang out.

Techtonica releases into Early Access this year. Thanks for reading, Groundbreakers!

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